Friendliness on the Trails and in the Parks

I’ve always been impressed by the amount of kindness and respect I have received by other travelers and hikers throughout my time in the National Parks. Not only that, but many people have been very helpful.

About half of the time I have spent exploring the National Parks I was on my own. Yet, those are definitely the times I have found the friendliest people in the parks and on the trails. Initially I suppose that may appear to make sense, people offering to help the solo traveler. However, I assume there must have been some people that would be put off by a bearded man in his 20’s traveling by himself. Some people might have thought I was creepy, or a loner, or even a serial killer (don’t worry I’m none of those). In reality I just loved hiking and camping in National Parks. I traveled with a friend and eventually my wife when possible, but if I couldn’t find anyone to go with; I was more than happy to go alone.

As I was saying, I’ve been very impressed by just how friendly and helpful other hikers and campers have been. I’ve tried to help others as much as possible, too.

Here are a few examples of the experiences I have had:

· When I was hiking the Mist Trail in Yosemite a man pointed out a nice vantage point for photographing Nevada Fall. I caught up to him later on the trail and we ended up hiking for a few miles together down the John Muir Trail. I was actually traveling with a friend on that trip, but we had gotten separated on the hike and the man I was hiking with (Mike) was traveling with his family, but he was on this trail by himself.

· I was only in Capitol Reef National Park for the morning on my way from Arches to Bryce Canyon, so I decided to fit one quick hike in. I picked the Grand Wash Trail and met a middle-aged man, named Lee, at the trailhead. Lee had recently retired from the Bureau of Land Management and had a wealth of knowledge of the southwest. It was like hiking with a guide. We talked as we hiked to the end of the trail together. He offered to drive me back to the trailhead, but I opted to turnaround and hike back).

· Another time I had just wrapped up the Phelps Lake hike in Grand Teton National Park when a young couple approached me and asked if I could give them a ride to Jenny Lake so they could begin a backpacking excursion that would end where we were standing (which is where their car was). My campsite was at Jenny Lake and I was heading there anyway so I said I would be happy to bring them along. They were both teachers on summer vacation. I was traveling alone on that trip, so it was nice to chat with a couple of hikers on the drive. We talked about different hikes and parks in the west. They even left a few dollars in my car despite me saying I didn’t want any payment.

· I was on the treacherous Half Dome cables when a fellow hiker started handing out extra water bottles to hikers in need. My friend Joe and his girlfriend each took one, but I had more water left, so I declined. I should have taken some water, because I ended up running out of water a ways from the trailhead (so did Joe and Kate).

Climbing Half Dome

· On my second trip to Glacier National Park I decided to hike back to Grinnell Glacier, because I liked it so much the first time. I ran into two couples at the trailhead, one couple was my age and the other was in their 50’s. The four of them met on a trail the day before and planned on hiking on a ranger-led hike to the glacier, but got the date wrong. I told them I had previously hiked the trail and that it was an amazing hike. Then the five of us started off and ended up hiking the whole trail together. I enjoy hiking alone, but it can be just as nice, if not better, to hike in a group sometimes (especially in bear country).

Western Adventure 2010 486

· One time I was camping alone in Madison Campground in Yellowstone. There was a young family at the site next to mine and they invited me over to eat dinner with them and then also to join them at their campfire later. I felt so lucky to encounter such friendly and generous people. They had lived in both Alaska and Hawaii so I talked to them a lot about those places since they sit atop my Travel Bucket List.

· Another time I was camping at Jenny Lake in Grand Teton and there were a couple of middle-aged sisters at the site next to mine. I shared some guide books and supplies with them and helped plan their short overnight hike into Death Canyon.

· When I was camping alone in Arches I met another solo traveler who ended up bringing beer and a ton of firewood to my site. He was an electrical engineer from Los Angeles who was on a long road trip across Utah and Colorado. He wanted to explore some National Parks before returning to his wife and starting a new job in a few weeks. We exchanged hiking stories at my campfire and he recommended a few trails in Arches for me.

Those are just a few examples of friendliness I’ve dealt with on the trail or in camp. As far as hiking goes, I’ve generally felt that the farther I go from the trailhead the nicer and more helpful other hikers are. All in all, nearly everyone I have spoken with in a National Park has been extremely kind and helpful. It’s a shame people aren’t always like that outside of the parks.

Have any stories to share about friendliness in the parks or on the trail?


2 thoughts on “Friendliness on the Trails and in the Parks

Add yours

  1. These are really great moments of friendliness and kindness from strangers that you shared, they honestly make me want to get back out there and soon 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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